It’s going to be a busy summer travel season. And different.
The summer travel tips from experts are also different.
Domestic travel volume will increase 16% year over year, with nearly 75% of Americans planning to travel domestically over the summer vacation, according to Allianz Partner’s Top 10 Summer Destinations Review. And travel to Europe will increase by 600% compared to last year.
“The floodgates have opened,” says Valentina O’Kane, owner of Incognito Global Travel, an Embark Beyond subsidiary. “People are rushing to get back out. The popular tourist destinations are overbooked, with little or no availability. They will be crowded and overpriced this summer.”
I just polled 200 top travel experts about what’s in store for travel. Here’s part one of my series, outlining what to expect over the next three months.
There are two major takeaways. Covid is far from over so you may need to get tested before you leave or when you return.
“We’re not over the hill yet,” says Mahmood Khan, a professor of hospitality and tourism at Virginia Tech. “Caution and patience are still required when planning summer travel.
Travel experts including Patricia Schultz, author of 1000 Places To See Before You Die, says Covid could continue to be a factor this summer.
“What we hear — for those who will listen — is the concern and frustration of those who find themselves in varying degrees of difficulty upon arrival at their destination — or hours before returning to the United States,” she says.
The second realization is that for those brave enough to travel, there will be chaos.
“Flight cancellations are causing chaos this summer,” said Bill McGee, senior fellow in aviation and travel at the American Economic Liberties Project. “Most analysts are predicting that passenger load factors will increase to levels not seen since World War II.”
I asked my panel of experts for the best summer travel tips they haven’t heard. What don’t the pros say?
- You don’t want to delay this summer. From airlines to hotels, timing is more important than ever. In particular, is the time to book now.
- How to get there Drive if possible. But if you have to fly, be prepared to spend more — and put up with lengthy delays and cancellations.
- When it comes to choosing a travel destination, stay close to home or go somewhere off-season to avoid the tourist crowds.
- Your flexibility and creativity determine the success of your holiday.
When should I book my 2022 summer vacation?
The experts in the summer travel advice agree on this question. If you haven’t already booked your holiday, you must do so now.
timing is everything. A recent analysis by Kayak found that flying during the week will save you the most money domestically. Flights are 13% cheaper on average on Wednesday. The most expensive day? Sunday, when flights are 15% more expensive.
When traveling internationally, flying in the morning can help you save money. Flights between 5am and 10am are 22% cheaper than the rest of the day. However, the opposite applies to domestic flights. Flying between 10am and 10pm is 12% cheaper than flying earlier in the morning.
Book your hotels early – and pay a little more. “This will save your vacation and give you and your family the vacation you dream of,” says Sangeeta Sadarangani, CEO of Crossing, a multinational travel agency headquartered in London. “Many hotels are understaffed and have new and inexperienced staff working in them.” If you pay a little more for a five-star experience, you’re more likely to end up in a luxury hotel where the experienced staff will ensure you have a relaxing time. “The best travel consultants have visited hotels and worked closely with hoteliers, and they have the inside information on what’s hot and what’s not,” she adds.
Make your other reservations now. That’s the advice from Cristiano Cabutti, General Manager at JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa. “One thing we’ve noticed is that our guests are so eager to travel and return to classic European destinations that they don’t realize that in order to be guaranteed the best experience this summer, they need to get ahead with the pre-planning ,” he says. Plan ahead for restaurant reservations, museum tickets, and private tours. They sell out fast.
Check your passport expiration dates. “Many have not traveled internationally in a while and are unaware that they will be denied entry into certain countries if their passport has expired or is about to expire within six months,” said Danny Finkel, chief commercial officer at TripActions. Also remember that some destinations and international airlines still require masks. “Make sure you check this before your flight,” he adds.
How to get to your travel destination in summer 2022
Experts say you shouldn’t cut corners. And drive if possible.
Skip the budget airlines. This is summer travel advice from Julie Ramhold, Consumer Analyst at DealNews.com. “Yes, they offer ridiculously low domestic and international fares,” she says. “But you’ll end up paying in some other way.” At a time when holiday budgets are being eroded by inflation, the last thing you want is a surprise fee on your flight. “Instead, opt for a major airline and just travel at a good time, say during the week when the fares are obviously cheaper,” she adds. “That way, the cost of things like snacks and carry-on luggage is built in, and you don’t have to worry about spending more money on those items on your flight.” Low-cost airlines often have fairly thin flight schedules and smaller fleets. So if your flight is canceled due to weather or a mechanical problem, you may have to wait days for that airline’s next flight.
Drive, don’t fly. “The pilot shortage is real and is affecting travel dramatically,” says travel expert Peggy Cleveland, author of 100 things to do in Tacoma before you die. “For example, summer storms cause travel delays at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport every year. Add to that the pilot shortage and the crowded planes and it’s a recipe for a potentially multi-day delay.”
Be aware of additional insurance requirements. “Despite the current recovery, some international destinations continue to require tourists to provide proof of travel insurance upon entry as part of their Covid policies,” said Beth Godlin, President of Aon Affinity Travel Practice. Do some research before you go and make sure you have the right insurance.
Where should you go this summer?
This summer you have to bitch when everyone else bites. At least that’s the consensus of travel experts for summer trips.
Consider an off-season destination. That’s what Jessica Bradford did while planning her summer vacation. “I’m going to Morocco this summer,” says Bradford, who runs a communications firm specializing in lifestyle products and services. “At first I thought it might be too hot but when I looked at the temperatures in Marrakech in July they weren’t far off from what they’re likely to be here in Los Angeles where I live. Also, there will be fewer crowds in the souks and museums.”
Find an alternate destination. “Rather than trying to squeeze into the Amalfi Coast or the French Riviera this summer, go to Greece or southern Spain where there’s still space and reasonable prices,” advises Jack Ezon, who runs luxury travel consultancy Embark Beyond. “And now that Australia is open, consider exploring Australia this summer, or travel to French Polynesia, or even the Galapagos Islands, or Peru. There’s still room at reasonable prices and there’s no better time to explore.”
Have a stay. They became popular during the pandemic. But as Americans begin to travel more, a vacation close to home can save money and headaches, according to Warren Jaferian, dean of international education at Endicott College. “So my advice is to visit your local attractions, support local businesses — and save money,” he says.
Summer Travel Tips: Here are a few essential strategies
Experts say that this year you need to take a different approach to planning a summer vacation. Again, flexibility is key.
Keep an eye on things. This is especially true when it comes to fuel prices, which seem to get a lot of media attention. “Don’t weigh yourself down with gas prices,” says Tom Kaiden, Visit Alexandria’s chief operating officer. “As long as you don’t go cross-country, it’s still a fraction of your total vacation cost.” Instead, focus on the more expensive things like accommodation, meals, and activities. And if the numbers don’t make sense, you can always scale down your getaway and travel somewhere closer.
Always have a plan B “With flights being so busy, there’s a chance that a canceled flight could seriously mess up your travel plans for the coming days,” said Bob Winter, owner of Lake Country Travel. “Always know the replacement flights. Take the time to look online the morning of your departure and pull up some additional flight options to your destination, preferably on the same airline or one within the same alliance.” A site like Google Flights lets you sort by times, fares, and airline alliances .
Take a shortcut. Some airports have introduced programs that allow you to reserve a seat in the queue to save time. For example, in Phoenix Sky Harbor you can use a program called PHX RESERVE to hold a spot in line. “This is a free service that allows travelers to reserve a time to get in line for security,” said airport spokeswoman Heather Shelbrack. “You can make the reservation up to three days before your flight and go to a designated checkpoint lane for screening upon arrival.”
And finally, the most contrarian summer travel advice of all…
Don’t travel this summer. “Wait until fall,” says Kimberly Davis, founder of travel agency Trouvaille Travel. “Prices are sky high, availability is low, airlines still don’t have the staff to meet demand and we are in another Covid surge. And frankly, the crowds at most tourist destinations will not only make them uncomfortable to visit, but over-tourism harms both the sites and the communities.” Her advice? Wait until later to take that dream trip and stay in this summer near your home.
Conclusion: This is perhaps the summer for a different kind of vacation. But if you go, go fearlessly. Plan for a worst-case scenario. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use most of these summer travel tips.